Glass Beads and Crystal Beads - What is the Difference?
Regular glass is mainly made of Silicon Dioxide (SiO2), with the addition of other ingredients, such as sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), calcium oxide (CaO), magnesium oxide (MgO) and Aluminum Oxide. The resulting glass contains about 70 to 72 percent silica by weight and is called a soda-lime glass. Soda-lime glasses account for about 90 percent of manufactured glass.
In general, manmade ‘crystal’ is a glass that has had one or more of certain minerals added to a standard glass formulation to make the product more brilliant. Lead is the mineral of choice here, as lead oxide added to the molten glass gives lead crystal a much higher index of refraction than normal glass, and consequently much greater “sparkle”. The presence of lead also makes the glass softer and easier to cut.
It's not easy. If you have a lot of, say, 8mm bicones of both glass and crystal, you could weigh them (the glass separately from the crystal). The crystal should weigh more than the glass.
However, crystal costume jewelry can cost a considerable amount of money, especially Swarovski crystal beads. As a result, before making a purchase, it is wise to have a basic understanding of the difference between crystal and glass. Essentially, glass is crystal in its rawest form, and glass to which lead has been added becomes crystal. Indeed, glass with a lead content of at least one percent is regarded as crystal, and the quality of crystal is entirely determined by its lead content in the US jewelry industry; the higher the lead content is, the better its quality. Swarovski crystal features a lead content of 30 percent or higher, making it the best quality crystal in the world.
The uniformity between glass beads and Swarovski crystal beads is totally different. Swarovski beads are cut with sophisticated machinery that ensures each bead will feature the same size and shape. But as to the glass beads, it is not usually the case. The machines utilize a cutting method that is similar to the process used in diamond cutting, with which no scratch marks or bubbles are left inside the bead.
Although glass beads and crystal beads look similarly, however, with these things considered, you are able to distinguish the two, enabling you to get the genuine Swarovski crystal beads in the market when you are going to have them.
As far as we know Crystal Beads have the highest lead content of any bead that can be called crystal. The design of the cuts is also important, just as in cutting gemstones. At Swarovski, the angles of the facets are set up to maximize refraction and reflection of light, thus making their products as brilliant as possible. One thing you may have noticed is that the more facets on a cut bead (of any kind, crystal or gemstone), the higher the price. However, the more facets, the more brilliant and pretty the bead, so you get what you pay for.